A new study from the University of São Paulo, working with the Butantan Institute and the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, has found that Alzheimer's greatly increases the risk of severe symptoms from COVID-19.
The full study, published in Alzheimer's & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer's Association, provides greater insight into the relationship between degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and dementia and the likelihood of severe COVID-19 symptoms.
Speaking to Contagion Live, a medical news website, Sérgio Verjovski-Almedia, principal researcher in the study noted that "Some factor that hasn't yet been identified increases the predisposition of Alzheimer's patients to progress to severe COVID-19 and die from the viral disease."
"The results of our study point to a need for special attention to these patients when hospitalized," Verjovski-Almedia added.
Researchers analyzed the data of 12,836 patients who either tested positive or negative for coronavirus, and determined that notwithstanding age, Alzheimer's elevated risks for severe coronavirus symptoms, among those tested in three age groups, ranging from 66-74, 75-79, and 80-86.
While Alzheimer's did not actually increase the likelihood of hospitalization, those already hospitalized with a degenerative disease had a threefold risk of more severe coronavirus symptoms.
"The advantages of using clinical data from UK Biobank (a biorepository that stores biological samples) include the amount of detail, as the records refer to all pre-existing diseases and whether the patient tested positive, was hospitalized and died from COVID-19," Verjovski-Almeida noted.
"This enabled us to assess the risk factors associated with infection, severity and death from the disease, including all causes of dementia, especially Alzheimer's and Parkinson's."